In what comes as a great relief for his family and for the people of India, Father Tom Uzhunallil who was kidnapped by Islamic State terrorists in Yemen in March 2016, has now been released and has reached Muscat. The Ministry of External Affairs has confirmed that he will return to India later on Tuesday night.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed on Twitter that the priest has been rescued.
In a video released in May, Father Tom had made renewed appeals for help.
In the video posted on Yemeni news portal www.aden-tm.net, Uzhunnalil had said: "They are treating me well to the extent they are able."
"My health condition is deteriorating quickly and I require hospitalisation as early as possible.”
"My dear family people, do what you can to help me be released. Please, please do what you can to help to get me released. May God bless you for that," he said.
In December 2016, the priest, in a video, had appealed to the Indian government and Pope Francis to secure his release from his captors.
On May 30 this year, his relatives had met Kerala governor Justice P Sathasivam, seeking help. They requested the Governor to pressurise the Centre to intensify search for the priest. Former chief minister Oommen Chandy also accompanied the relatives.
The MEA has been working on his release for a while now, with help from Sultan Qaboos bin Said, King of Oman, and the Oman Foreign Affairs ministry.
The Oman Observer put out a statement which said, “In compliance with His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Oman in coordination with the Yemeni parties have managed to find a Vatican priest. He has been transferred to Muscat from where he will return to his home in Kerala.”
“Tom Uzhunnalil, a Vatican priest, expressed thanks to God Almighty and appreciation to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. He also thanked his brothers and sisters and all relatives and friends who called on God for his safety and release,” the Oman Observer said.